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St. Lucie County planning board vote advances FPL wind turbine plans  

Credit:  By Eric Pfahler, www.tcpalm.com 17 March 2011 ~~

ST. LUCIE COUNTY – Florida Power & Light Co. came one step closer to testing wind speeds in the western part of St. Lucie County.

If the tests are approved and successful, the company could seek approval to build wind turbines at to-be-determined locations.

The county’s Planning and Zoning Board unanimously recommended Thursday that county commissioners pass a rule letting people put up 200-foot meteorological towers on land designated as Agricultural-5. The towers do not generate noise, fumes or odors, according to the county’s staff report.

The measure could go before commissioners within the next two months. There were no public comments Thursday.

FPL wants to put meteorological testing towers in western St. Lucie County. The towers would gauge whether there’s enough wind to justify building turbines. The company is seeking to put six such turbines on Hutchinson Island near the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant. FPL, however, is awaiting a public hearing before the county on the plan. County officials have not scheduled a public hearing.

Currently, the county’s policy does not allow for 200-foot structures in lands zoned as Agricultural-5. The new rules would allow such structures so long as they are taken down within three years. The towers and equipment also could not be more than 500 feet in area and must be enclosed by at least a 6-foot-high fence.

Ryan Fair, manager of FPL product development, said the company usually needs one year’s worth of wind data, but the company looks to collect more data on migratory patterns and monitor for wildlife.

The company would consult with a third party before selecting sites for the towers, Fair said.

Fair said the company would provide results from data analysis, but the company typically keeps the raw data to help keep a competitive advantage.

County staff is recommending the exception be allowed because the request is not in conflict with the county’s comprehensive plan. The matter could be before county commissioners within the next two months.

In 2009, the county adopted a policy containing goals, strategies and actions to create a sustainable economy. The policy include a section on renewable sources of energy, and FPL’s plan follows that code.

Source:  By Eric Pfahler, www.tcpalm.com 17 March 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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